Time to Rethink IT Systems Management

Michael Vizard

Managing IT on a daily basis has never been more challenging. With the advent of virtualization, the number of virtual and physical servers that IT managers are being asked to regularly manage is increasing by a factor of 10 or more. There are, of course, plenty of tools to manage those servers, but most of them are outside the cost range of many IT organizations.

Historically, IT organizations have been faced with three choices, none of which have been exactly ideal. There are major systems management platforms that are not only expensive to license and complex to learn, but also require a lot of dedicated hardware. The other options are to cobble together a lot of comparatively inexpensive point products to manage the environment, or rely on the skills of administrators who can write custom scripts to manage the server environment. The problem with either of these approaches is that they don't scale particularly well, and should the administrator who wrote the scripts leave the company, chances are that nobody remaining knows how those scripts exactly work.

The folks at SolarWinds, a provider of network and server management tools, say they want to disrupt this status systems management quo with the launch of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) , which now includes modules for automating patch management and Windows management utilities based on technologies that SolarWindows acquired by purchasing the assets of EminentWare and DameWare in late 2011. SAM was previously known as SolarWinds Application Performance Monitor.


According to Denny LeCompte, vice president of product management for SolarWinds, SAM provides a complete systems management framework that is not only easy to master, but provides all the major features and functions of any other management platform at a fraction of the cost. Pricing for SAM, for example, ranges from $11 a server to a couple of dollars depending on the volume of licenses involved, says LeCompte. In addition, LeCompte adds that SolarWinds makes community editions of its software available for free as part of an effort to increase exposure to its tools.

IT organizations of all sizes are increasingly being asked to do the impossible these days. The scope of the IT environment is increasing exponentially, while size of the IT staff remains flat or in some cases is actually declining. IT automation can make up for a lot of that disparity. But at the end of the day, IT administrators are going to need access to more affordable systems management tools. After all, it's no longer about making the job of the IT administrator easier, but rather possible.

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